Kazan team Ak Bars was first to secure entry to the semi-final of the Gazprom Neft Cup, confidently beating Avtomobilist from Yekaterinburg in the quarter final with a score of 3:0. The success of the young players from Tatarstan was largely helped by the confident play ’on the final frontier’ by goalkeeper Shamil Valiullin, who has so far not allowed a single goal in the whole tournament!
Shamil started his shootout series on the first game, when the ’Bars’ beat Sibir from Novosibirsk 4:0. The reliable and calm actions of Valiullin in goal set loose the Kazan forwards. It’s true what they say, that the goalkeeper is half the team, if not more. In their next game against Barys, the young keeper could not be stopped from beginning to end: Ak Bars confidently commanded the score, so dominating their opponents on all fronts that the coach decided to bring out the reserve goalie in the middle of the game. Then in the quarter final against Avtomobilist, Valiullin again erected his unassailable brick wall, and another shootout!
And so at present, Valiullin’s shootout series is already 112 minutes long. Ahead is the semi-final, and that will definitely be harder.
Shamil Valiullin, Ak Bars goalkeeper:
“It happens often that I don’t allow any goals for a few games in a row. Our defence guys are really great, they try to help me, blocking shots. Now I want to win the prize for best goalkeeper in the tournament. But even more I want to win the Gazprom Neft Cup!”